S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I am pleased to introduce you to a unique pair, brining life to the written world through their paranormal renditions: 
Author Cynthis Echterling
and Stephen Wytrysowski, Alien Interpreter

Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing? 

Cynthia: First of all, thanks for having us. Why don't you start, Steve, you're the author.

Steve: Well, okay. I'm from Hammond, Indiana. That's up near Chicago. I lived there my whole life, but now I  live at the Intra-galactic Self-determinant Species Network - US Embassy in like a dorm for us interpreter trainees. It's in Halfway, Virginia which is like near Washington DC in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't even have a zip code. I used to be the assistant night manager at a truck stop before I got picked to be an interpreter for aliens. And they don't mind bein' called aliens, by the way. Most of 'em can't pronounce extraterrestrial. Just don't call 'em space monsters or nothin' like that. As for the book, it's part of my trainin' to keep a journal and my teachers liked it, so they told the ambassadors, and they wanted to put it out as a book. Help Wanted, Human: No Experience Necessary. It It's my autobiography. It may even be a series of books if people like it cuz I still have to keep a journal.

Cynthia: I guess we should tell people that Steve lives in alternate universe just like ours, but aliens have made contact in theirs. We communicate telepathically. I'm just the ghost writer.

Steve: Actually, to me, she is like a ghost and trust me, I know ghosts personally. I guess cuz I was scared about writin' a book, one night, I dreamed about her, and she dreamed about me and we've been communicatin' telepathically ever since. She helps me with the book, but she still makes me sound like a jerk who don't speak English right, or nothin'. But that's okay, I guess. Gotta be authentic.

Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

Cynthia: I'd say I'm primarily an introvert, but since I've worked with the public for so long as a counselor and workshop facilitator, I've become more extroverted.

Steve: (What is that? Oh.) I'm an outgoin' kinda guy. Kinda the class clown. Since I've been writin' though, I gotta think about myself and how I feel, especially about some of the really scary stuff that's happened. So I guess I've become more of a ... whatever you called it.

 Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind and tell us their names.

Cynthia: I have a black cat, named Katmandu, Katman for short.

Steve: Back home we have a dog, Peanut. He's a little mutt and he like to hump legs, but I kinda miss him. Around here, I think I'm considered a pet. Prob'ly cuz I'm the youngest trainee.

Where is the most unique place you have traveled?

Cynthia: Inside a cave in Georgia. It wasn't a regular tourist cave. You had to crawl in and then it was completely black and silent except for water dripping far off. A very unique experience.

Steve: I've been places I'm not even sure are places cuz I was havin' a outa body experience.

Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

Cynthia: Raising my daughter to help her be the kind of person she is – honest and concerned for other people. My military service also.

Steve: I got a track trophy once.

 How many books have you written and how many of those are published?

Cynthia: I have an unpublished book, The Scavenger. It won some literary awards, but I think it was too dark.  Help Wanted, Human: No Experience Necessary is our first published book and, as Steve said, it's the first of a series. We've finished Help Wanted,Human: Paid Holidays, and Help Wanted,Human: Works Well with Others and have a fourth book we're working on now. Problem Solving Skills. It's more of a mystery.

Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.)  or do you write in many different genres?

Cynthia: Help Wanted is probably literary science fiction, humor, paranormal or metaphysical.

Steve: Those books are my autobiographies!

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?

Steve: I just keep a journal.

Cynthia: I literally dream these things up, then I write them seat of the pants. The only notes I keep are things like how I spell names and alien words. Dates. After I've written something I check facts and add research detail. I have to make sure Steve knows what he's talking about. For example, book three involves an F-22 fighter jet. I knew nothing about aircraft and stealth technology and Steve didn't know much either, so I researched that. My main emphasis is character development, especially when dealing with  the aliens. I don't want them to come across as humans in costumes with funny names. We've explored their culture, history, belief systems, values and even their folklore.

Steve: And I know what they feel like and whether their breath stinks.

Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

Cynthia: A ton, but they were always telling me I wrote well, my work just didn't fit their list. I suppose if they told me my writing style sucked, I might have quit, but the positive comments kept me at it. I think the main problem is that what I write doesn't fit neatly into a genre category. I'm grateful that Whiskey Creak Press decided to take a chance on it.

Steve: I never wrote anything before, so most of my rejections come from chicks.

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

Steve: I sit down every night after dinner and talk to the computer about my day.

Cynthia: I don't make a schedule. I divide my time between my writing, artwork and marketing. When I get tired of one I do one of the others.

If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it. 

Cynthia: Help Wanted Human:No Experience Necessary is Steve's autobiographical account of first contact and how he  was hired by aliens to be an interpreter trainee. It covers the period in which the trainees are getting to know each other, and going through orientation with Ambassador Shyemiyashkete, who is the equivalent of a Pyeshtwenle shaman.

Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?

Steve: I'd say Deer Shit. Ay's a real character! Well, they're all real characters, but  Deer Shit is the bratty little offspring of the Hoidan Zeday ambassador and a total pain in my ass, but I feel sorry forthe kid, seein' as how ay's the only kid at the base. Oh, and “ay” is a Hoidan Zeday pronoun for someone that isn't male or female.

Cynthia: Yes, Deer Shit is a lot of fun, but Ay doesn't show up until book three along with Ceiling. In book one, Ambassador Shemiyashkete aka Smash is interesting. Ay's so clueless about reality. And Dr. Moe, Steve's dentist. Then there's Allison ...

Steve: Allison is a pain in the butt! She's also a weirdo!

If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?

Cynthia: I think I'd like to be on the raft with Huck and Jim.

Steve: Can I be Jason Bourne and get to kill people?

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?

It's very competitive out there. Join a writers critique group whether it's online or in your neighborhood. Look for people who will give you constructive criticism instead of just stroking your ego and telling you you’re wonderful. Editors aren't going to do that, so get your work in the best possible shape for the reader before you send it out.

What's up next for you and your writing?

I also have an animated web series based on an alien folktale called The Legend of Killer Killer. The trailer is out now and I plan to begin putting the episodes online in February. I wrote, animated it and did the voiceover. That was fun! You can watch it on the website under Pfugler.

Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?

 Cynthia: (whispering) Steve's single. Ouch!

 Where can we read more about you and your work?

Cynthia: The best place would be the IGSDSN US Embassy website. Http://www.welikehumans.com

Steve: Yeah, that's right. Thanks for inviting us to your blog. We really appreciate it.

No, thank YOU Cynthia and Steve for making this a very lively and entertaining interview.  I look forward to reading your stories and tuning into Pfugler! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing? 
I grew up in Western Kentucky but moved to Tennessee when I was a young bride. I spent most of my adult life working as a registered nurse, but always wanted to write.  I’ve always had a creative side. I obtained an Associate Degree in Interior Design, even though I never worked in the feel. Just couldn’t quite give up the steady day job.
My occupation, if you want to call it that, is that of chauffeur to my elderly mother who can’t see well enough to drive. Last fall, I moved back to Western Kentucky to be near her. It has been a great experience getting reacquainted with my friends from high school and nursing school. You really can go home again.
 Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
Definitely an introvert with occasional bursts of being an extrovert…like when I meet readers who love my work.
Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind and tell us their names.
I have a darling four-and-a-half-year-old Shetland Sheepdog by the name of Cassie. She’s a rescue and she’s been my constant companion for nearly two years.
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Since I absolutely refuse to fly, I’m constrained to the New World. The most unusual place might be Granby, Quebec, where I attended a car race driven by blind people. Sighted celebrities acted as “shotgun.” This fundraising event is called DeFiVision.
 Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Graduating from interior design school. I loved nearly every minute of the class work, the art work, the space planning, drafting—everything but the final course presentations where you have to get up in front of the class and teacher and speak eloquently about your design solution. I’m truly an introvert who hates speaking before any group.
How many books have you written and how many of those are published? 
Published Novels:
Love Me If You Can
Seducing the Sheriff
Holding Her Own
One Too Many
Love on the Run
Too Good to be True
The Man for the Job
See You in My Dreams
Works in Progress:
A Promise Unkept, 92 percent complete
Because of You, 80 percent complete
Pleasuring the Pinkerton, barely started
 Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.)  or do you write in many different genres?
The majority of my books are romantic suspense, but I have one erotic historical western, a paranormal romantic suspense and one mystery/suspense to be credit. I have a holiday short story, Mistletoe and Mario, that’s a contemporary romance with no suspense/mystery element. The erotic historical western, Seducing the Sheriff, is the first of a series I’ve yet to settle down and write. There will be at least two more in the Loving Lawmen series.
 Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?
With submissions to agents and editors combined, I would say at least twenty to thirty. In the early phases I very unrealistically thought someone would snap me up immediately. Although…I’d been warned rejection was part of the deal. I responded by submitting to someone else. I’m stubborn, impatient, but this business has taught me a bit of patience. I’m still stubborn though. I try to take each rejection and see if there’s anything I can learn from it to improve. Initially my rejections were form rejections with no input, but gradually I started to receive more feedback.
And even though I’ve been published, I still face the possibility of rejection each time I send a submission to my editor. My favorite editor has rejected two of my submissions, so rejection remains a fact of life.  I try not to let it get me down, but at some point it does. But I don’t give up.
Where can we read more about you and your work?

Here is a blurb form Maria Nicole Ryan’s novel: Love Me If You Can

Nashville sizzles in the summer. No wonder Tess and Scott combust.
Nashville Homicide Detective Tess O’Malley has a lot to prove. She comes from a long line of police officers, including her father and older brothers. First she and her partner are taken off a high profile case and sidelined with a cold case instead. After reviewing the files, she’s certain her cold case is connected to the current one, and she sets out to prove it. Too bad it means locking horns with a handsome PI who could win her heart and derail her career.
 Scott Holt is all business when it comes to running his family’s PI firm. When the lovely Detective O’Malley comes to question him about his possible involvement in her cold case, he has everything but business on his mind. Like locking lips with the fiery redhead.

It has been a pleasure getting to know you and your work better. 
Best wishes with your latest release!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


(J. Lloyd Morgan)

Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing? 
I grew up in Utah, but have lived all over the USA. After 7 years in Connecticut, we moved to North Carolina, where we plan on staying for a good, long time. I have been a TV director (primarily of newscasts, talk shows, and public events). What do I do now? Only the shadow (and my boss) knows. 
Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
I'd have to say a combo of both. I enjoy spending time alone--hence a lot of hours in front of a keyboard writing. While I don't seek out large groups or events, I can be quite the outgoing person. I've enjoyed giving author talks and hope to do more in the future. 
Do you have any pets? 
With 4 daughters, I have enough little things running around the house as it is--so no, no pets. However, when it was just my wife and I, she brought home the smallest puppy on planet Earth. He was a terrier-poodle mix (or "ter-a-poo"). Since he was so little, I decided he needed a big name, so I called him Armageddon.   We nicked-named him "Argy". 
What are your favorite books to read?
 Primarily Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I do enjoy a good techno-thriller time and again. I also really enjoyed "The Work and the Glory" series which was historical fiction. 
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Probably the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I was able to visit the ruins of Chichen Itza. The Castillo there was actually an inspiration for part of the sequel to The Hidden Sun.
Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
My family, by far. I have the best wife and most wonderful daughters. I've won awards for different things in my life, but nothing compares to seeing my daughters make good choices and lead good lives. 
How many books have you written and how many of those are published?
The Hidden Sun is actually my first book, and the one that is published. The sequel, called The Waxing Moon is written and in the final editing stages. I'm about 14,000 words into my third book. (For reference, the other two books are roughly 100,000 words each)
 Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.)  or do you write in many different genres?
Actually, it's hard to pin down which genre The Hidden Sun belongs to. It's set in Medieval times, but there isn't any magic nor non-human characters in the story. I've heard it described as action / adventure / romance / political intrigue.  I did write a short story recently for a contest which was fantasy--and I may flush it out to a full blown novel one day. 
How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?
I'm a combo of both. I plot out the characters, setting, and basic outline. Now this next part is may sound strange. From there, I put the characters in the setting with a general idea where they are headed. However, I'm surprised time and again which path they take. I think by doing it that way, it helps the characters come alive--which I've heard from readers is something they have really liked about my writing. 
Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?
Oh, goodness. Rejections are part of the publishing world. I see it like a marriage. It's a big commitment, and not everyone you ask out is going to want to marry you. I have certain authors and genres I like to read, and it is the same for everyone. Just because someone doesn't like your work, doesn't mean it's necessarily bad. I did have one agent tell me she liked my work--and if I added more swearing and sex scenes, she would represent me. I was one that did the rejecting there. 
How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?
I have to set time aside to write.  I wish I had the freedom to write when to mood struck, but my life as of the moment is too busy. What's the saying? "I have too many hands on my time." 
If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it. 
The Waxing Moon takes place four years after The Hidden Sun. It's much more of an adventure novel than the first one. The primary character is a minor (but interesting) character from The Hidden Sun. I really don't want to give too much away, because it will spoil the fun and surprises in the book. 
Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is Abrecan--the antagonist in The Hidden Sun. Why? Well, he's just such a jerk. I've had many readers tell me how much they really dislike him--some going as far as wanting to reach into the pages and strangle him themselves. Anytime you can cause an emotional response like that in a reader, I think that is saying something.
If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
I'd say four things.  #1 Don't give up.  #2 Put on a thick skin. #3 Keep an open mind. #4 Don't give up. (Yeah, 1 and 4 are the same--but it is important)

What's up next for you and your writing?
Goals for this year are to get The Waxing Moon published and the first draft of the third book in the series completed.
 Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?
Yes, thank you for taking the time to read this! Oh, and buy a copy of The Hidden Sun. It's by far the best book every written by someone named J. Lloyd Morgan.
 Where can we read more about you and your work?
My website is http://www.thehiddensun.com/  
There is a link to my blog from there (which I update twice a week) as well as reviews, and a section called "behind the secrets" of The Hidden Sun--which you should only read *after* you have read the book.
Jason, thank you so much for sharing more about yourself and your work.  Best wishes on your upcoming release!

Friday, January 21, 2011

FANtastic Friday FLASH

FAN of the Week:   KELLY  SEALE

Hi Susan, and everyone on your fB page, and fan pages, blog twitter, and others...I am very excited to be Susan's FFF of the week!
I am a retired 20 yr. Navy Vet. (Since 1999) Originally from Murray, Ky. Moved to Michigan after retiring from the Navy. Spent 10 yrs. in Lansing, Michigan working as a Steam Production Engineer. Got tired of the cold, the Michigan economy, and coal dust, and up and quit my job and moved my family (wife Victoria of 23 yrs, and two sons, Trent 13, and Coalton 11,) to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I Landed a fantastic job as a Gas Turbine Power Plant Engineerr in September 2008 at PNM Resources. We lived in the city for 2 1/2 yrs, and just moved out to the country where we live at the base of the Robedilo Mountains on 14 acres of beautiful desert mountain country.

I love to photograph anything from sunrises, sunsets to desert life to almost anything at all.  My passion; however, lies in writing.  I write from my heart and attempt to touch as many people with my words as I can. Please look me up on Facebook and request to be my friend! I've written numerous poems and short stories and am currently working on a submission for the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition this spring. My New Year's Resolution is to get published in 2011. I have included for your enjoyment, several poems and photographs.

Thank you for this opportunity, and I hope everyone enjoys it!
V/R, C.Kelly Seale.


"Just Listen"
These Words, are my attempt
to reach you.
Without all the resentment felt
between the both of us.
The blaming game has been played out,
Satisfaction niether found, nor enjoyed.
Lives changed forever,
Relationships destroyed.

I will keep this short and sweet.
Attention to the next stanza...
I have, and always will... care for you.
My feelings are now driven by self-preservation.
In order for you to grow,
and be the person that you want to be...
You have to let go.
The past is a bitch
at reminding us of all our mistakes,
No need to relive old wounds
Just do what it takes..

The place where you are at
is approaching the rock at the bottom,
Nobody can help you
till you get there.
And you will know...
That this dark, deep hole
you are in...
Has only one way out,
And it won't be an easy climb.

Just Listen...
To the next few words I say,
You can do this
For there is no other way.
You must leave all the crap
behind you,
The needle, the bottle, the pill...
For they will pull you back down
and drown you,
I know you can do this
I know you have the will.

When you have broken free
of all these things that bind you,
I will be here to help hold you
and get you thru the next day...
If only that you will listen
to these words that I say.
Just Listen...

To me now, just this once
To these precious words from above,
And your life will be better than ever before...

You shall earn the respect
you deserve,
And have a life filled up with Love.


One of our most basic needs, from the time of conception, to birth,
and from childhood throughout our entire adult lives, and even in death-
Is touch. The need is so strong, so omnipresent,
that without it, we would surley die. Through my writing, I attempt to touch.
I invite the reader; you, to experience life and love, death and tragedy, suspense and excitement.
To feel my touch-


The human touch -
flesh against flesh,
skin against skin,
I crave it so much,
where do I begin.
My fingers trace-
the shape of your lips,
the outline of your face.
They gently carress-
your favorite place-
The back of your neck
where passion lives.
It awakens your soul,
it quickens your heartbeat,
and shortens your breath.
Without your touch I'm afraid
I'd withdraw into myself,
and enter the throes of death.

You take my hand in yours,
you smile and laugh
as we walk and talk.
You hold me tight
and whisper,"I love you!"
You playfully give me a bite.
Your fingers expertly roam
the contours of my back,
I'm almost there, in heaven-
You're on the right track.
Anticipating the touch of
your lips upon mine,
That's what touch is all about.
Our eyes meet as you tell me-
"Kiss me now, or I'll cut your heart out!"



"December's Magic"
Christmas Eve in Walmart was a nightmare. The crowds of people in their shopping frenzy, were for the most part, pleasant. Last minute gifts for their children and loved ones were on their minds. And I, like several shoppers in front of me, was in the check-out line from hell.
  My basket filled to the brim of Christmas Dinner entrees and all the trimmings.Twenty-five pound Butterball, the prize of my shopping safari. The pickin's were indeed slim, and I was lucky to nab this prized bird, for all of the other's were frozen and this would not due. No, not on Christmas Eve.
   You see, I had been tasked by my wife, to run this errand while she continued making preparations for our move, which deadline was only one week away. It seems that our Christmas celebrations were taking a back seat to this untimely, yet unavoidable move from our current house in the city, to a new life in the foothills of New Mexico's desert mountain region.

   Hey, I'm not complaining. It might be farther to drive to work, and more gas to burn, but oh, such a view. Acres and acres of land for our two boys, our two horses, our two dogs, our two cats, and lets not forget Bugsy, the rabbit.  Anyway, my wife is more or less, in charge of the move. Well, to be honest, she is more or less in charge of everything. She always has been the person that gets things done. Everybody loves her for this. Especially me. Her friends flock to her like kittens to a moma cat. They love her honesty and her giving of herself to others. Those who don't, the're just jealous.
   So here I am, standing in line to check-out, getting all the fixin's for tomorrows grand feast. Hey, at least I'm missing out on all the fuss of packing, sorting and tossing all the stuff we have accumulated in our two years since our "last move" from Michigan to New Mexico. Why do people keep so much stuff? And at Christmas time, they just go out and buy more stuff.
   Getting closer to check-out. Guy in front of me has two brand new bikes, already put together. Smart guy. Thinking back , seems like yesterday, buying bikes in a box for my boys. Staying up past midnight, Christmas Eve to Christmas morning, trying to put em' together. My wife, of course, took the job over, not even using the directions. How do they do that?

   The guy with the bikes,  balances the two wheelers out of the store, on their way home to await his children's delight in the morning's suprise. My turn. Wheeling my overstuffed basket up to the pleasant, smiling cashier. Noticed the lady behind me with two small children. The're hands combing through the goodies set up strategically adjacent to every check-out ailse, just to drive us parents crazy as we try to get-in, get-out, with our sanity intact.
  The lady behind me has a small amount of food in her basket. Small roasted chicken, two cans of green beans, two cans of corn, box of instant mashed potatoes, and two candy bars that her children begged for. I noticed her patience wearing thin, as she tried her best to maintain her children in line.
   "Excuse me ma'am," I spoke up. "Would you like to go ahead of me?" I asked her, smiling, knowing the relief I just gave her. She nodded politely, and said thank you as she pulled her basket and two children to the front. I smiled at her two little ones, wondering what surprises await them in the morning.

   The cashier totals the lady's bill, and she slides her card through the machine. The cashier sheepishly tells her that it's declined. She looses her composure just then, and remarks about her drunken husband spending the last of her pay on booze. She's in tears now, as she mutters an explictive in-between Merry and Christmas, and storms out of the store, emptyhanded except for her two children in tow.

   I just stood there. Watched it all. I did nothing. And then it was too late. The cashier apologized as I pushed my cart up and started to unload my prized bird and all her treasures. For some reason, I tuned out all that was around me. My mind wondering what kind of Christmas that family would have. I didn't even hear the cashier's voice as she gave me the grand total.
I'm not feeling pity, I want you to know. I was angry. Angry at myself. I did nothing! Then, I thought, if I had it to do over again, I'd of offered to pay the lady's bill. Yes, I told myself. That's what I'll do next time. Next time. Too late for her and her family. The cashier wished me a 'Merry Christmas', and I replied the same back to her. My heart still with the lady that had left emptyhanded.
   Out of the store, cold, fresh air to greet me. I looked up at the Christmas colored sky, stars winking at me. What a magical night this is.  On the bench, next to the exit, was the lady who was in front of me. She was still in tears, oblivious to her two children's cries. She was so upset that I was a little apprehensive as I approached her.
   " Excuse me, Ma'am," I said, trying not to upset her even more. "I want you to have this." My words following my heart, as I not only offered her my prized bird, but my entire bounty, overflowing basket and all.
She looked up from her tear-stained, make-up smeared eyes, and at first, couldn't say a word. Then,
   "I- I don't want your pity!"
   "No Ma'am!" I calmly offered. "Ma'am, It's Christmas! Please, Take it. Take it all. It is my present to you. Please."
She could not believe her ears. "Na- nobody does this crazy thing?" She protested. And I just smiled.
   "Merry Christmas Ma'am!" She got up and gathered her children, and slowly pushed the stuffed cart towards her parked car, miles away I supsect, parking lot madness in full effect.
She looked back and stopped  an oncoming car, honking an oblivious objection to our magical moment.
   "Merry Christmas to you Sir!" She smiled back at me. I turned away, just then. Not able to hold back my tears any further. Tears of joy. Magical tears of joy that only seem to happen at this magical time of the year.
   As I started back into Walmart, I looked again, to the sky. There was a special glow, that I did not notice before.
It was the glow of Christmas Love. It was the glow of December's Magic. I re-entered the store and the cart lady offered me a cart, and before i could retrieve it, a heavy-set lady in a hurry, grabbed it and was off to the races!
  I gladly took the next cart offered to me by the cart lady. Smiling all the way into the store as the left front wheel squeeked and skided with every step I took.

"Fade In"
Fade In...
The moning sun breaks through
 a crack in the curtains,
And shines down upon your face,
Awakening you from your dreams.

You reach over to hold him-
Not expecting him to be gone,
And your heart breaks wide open-
As you just keep on reaching on.

The smell of him
In the tangle of sheets in your bed,
The memory of his face, his eyes-
Burns deeply into your head.

You can still feel his touch-
On the most intimate places of your skin,
And yet, there can be no doubt-
That you will never see him again.
Fade in...

Fade out.


"Dancing Girls"
The eternal war
Of sea against shore,
Raged on-
Holding no quarter.

Earth and stone, grinding away,
Blood and bone, decadent decay.
Dancing Girls-
Sharing secrets, flesh against flesh.

As the girls danced-
Under the bright moonlight,
They were something to behold-
Oh, they were a sight.

Dancing Girls-
Holding eachother tight.
Throwing care to the wind,
Dancing past the waltz's end.

Onlookers stop and stare-

Oh, how they gossip and drool,
Whisperers a knife in their back,
How can people be so cruel.

But the girls
Just kept on dancing on-
Not caring to ever look back,
Forever entwined, beauty untouched.

They shared thier passion with the crescendo-
Of the wind, and the sea, with the moon, and the stars,
The musicians recognized thier beauty-
And they joined in with thier guitars.

The crowd of people thinned out,
And very soon, they were gone.
Leaving the girls alone-
Alone in their trance,

Alone to their dance-
As the eternal war
Of sea against shore,
Raged on.


Thank you Kelly for being my FANtastic Friday FAN and for sharing your heart with us through your beautiful writing.
It has been a pleasure getting to know you better.
Best wishes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011



Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a retired teacher, having taught French at community colleges, at a four year university, at high schools, and at middle schools.  I very much enjoyed that and miss it on occasion.  I love the smell of chalk and the joy of introducing students to a different culture and perhaps to a new way of thinking. 

Before that I was an accountant, a job I didn’t particularly enjoy but that paid the bills.  In between I held several boring and mundane jobs, again to pay the bills.  Now, however, I write, which has always been my dream.

I was born in Philadelphia but have lived all along the east coast, from Connecticut to southern Georgia with a very brief stint in northern Florida.  When we retired, however, we came back to Pennsylvania, since our aging parents were still here and we wanted to be near them.

From the very beginning of our relationship, we agreed that one day we would live in a log home in the woods, and so we spent about twenty years designing our home, learning that erasing walls on graph paper is much easier than ripping them down once they’re built. 

We finally had the plans for the house of our dreams, but we needed five more years to find the perfect plot of land on which to build.  We thought we had died and gone to heaven when we finally found it.  And, of course, we built the house immediately.  In 1999 we moved in or, more accurately, oozed in.  We brought our household goods over by the car load until we got down to the very large items.  Then we rented a U-Haul and finished up the task.  It was a relatively painless move, since we put everything away as we brought it over. And this is where we have lived ever since. 

We have four cats now: Freckles, Cadeau, Puck, and Callie, who give us a great deal of pleasure except on the days when we feel as if we’re living with a house full of naughty two year olds.  And, of course, we enjoy frequent visits from our many woodland friends.  The cats seem to enjoy seeing all those beasties outside the windows except for the deer and the bear.  They’re not too fond of large mammals.
I take a great deal of pleasure in playing in the dirt.  I love to plant and nurture things, particularly herbs.  In fact, we don’t have any grass.  We use herbs as ground covers.  The deer seem to enjoy that.  So do the rabbits.

I also love to cook, which is why I wrote Forest Song Cookbook.  Since I enjoy cooking (and eating) so much, my characters do a great deal of that.  People became interested in the dishes the characters were enjoying and asked me all the time how to prepare them.  Well, I got so tired of sending individual recipes out, that I decided to write a book containing recipes for all the dishes served in the first two Forest Song books.  I am currently working on another cookbook for the second two Forest Song books.

 Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

I am definitely an introvert.  I have always been shy and relatively reserved.  I’m the kind of person who likes to people watch.  I enjoy listening to conversation and watching body language.  I could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called the life of the party.  I’m fine with small groups.  But crowds seem to close in on me.  I try to avoid them if I can.

There is no question you have a deep love for your cats.  Why don’t you tell us a little bit about them: 

Oh yes!  The oldest is Freckles, and he’s our little athlete.  His favorite trick is jumping on top of open doors and then pouncing down on me when I go through the doorway. He thinks that’s a great game.  I tend to disagree.

Puck is the next oldest. He came to us with an attitude.  He was aggressive and unpleasant.  But, given the struggle he had just to survive at a very young age, that’s not surprising.  Someone had thrown him into a stream as a kitten, and he came very close to drowning.  I found him and fished him and his sister out, and they were barely alive.  Well, to make a long story even longer, I nursed them back to health and then gave the sister to our neighbor whose heart simply melted at the sight of her.

Cadeau also had a tough time.  He was left on the doorstep of our vet’s office in a carrier.  Unfortunately, the rocket scientist who had dropped him off had opened the carrier door.  Cadeau, of course, escaped.  We were in the midst of a very violent thunderstorm at the time, and, terrified, he sought safety in a bush. Unfortunately, it was a thicket of wild berries.  He screamed and screamed, and the techs who work there searched and searched for him.  They finally freed him, bloody and scared, and brought him into the office.  There he got all the medical attention he needed and thrived.  However, they could not keep him indefinitely.  Since we had lost a cat to cancer a few months before, and since Cadeau looked like the cat who had died, the vet called us.  And he asked those six deadly words—Would you like to hold him.  Well, needless to say, Cadeau became part of our family.  Cadeau means gift in French, and that’s why he has that name.  He was a gift from our vet and, I am convinced, from Merlin, the cat whom Cadeau so resembles. 

Callie came to us last year on 9 October.  I had been out running errands.  When I got out of the car, I heard a cat’s distress call and found a beautiful mostly white calico kitty sitting on a rock screaming her head off.  Of course, I went to her.  She leapt into my arms and would not let me go.  Well, I brought her in and fed her and examined her for wounds and ticks and other nasties.  While she had a few ticks, she seemed okay.  That’s when I discovered that she had been declawed!  This cat had been out in the woods for who knows how long with no means to protect herself and no way to feed herself.  That broke my heart.

I assumed that she had gotten out of the house somehow and imagined her family frantically trying to find her.  I made up flyers and stuffed mailboxes.  I made up posters and pinned them up in all the local businesses.  I put ads in the local papers.  I called all the local vets.  Nobody knew anything about this cat.  And so after a full veterinary check-up, I integrated her into the family.  It’s been touch and go ever since.  She is clearly used to being the only cat in the house, and so she’s very aggressive with the others.  But I trust that, like Puck, once she feels secure and loved she’ll mellow out.  Puck is now a champion at cuddling.  I think Callie has the same potential.

What are your favorite books to read?

I generally prefer non-fiction, truth to tell, though I enjoy a good story.  I particularly enjoy novels that explore human relationships.  I don’t care where they’re set or what their genre is.  I care that the relationships are honest and ring true.  I want to understand the characters, to know what makes them tick, what causes their behavior.  I am always disappointed when a story doesn’t offer me that.

Where is the most unique place you have traveled?

I loved Hawaii.  I was there for R&R when my first husband was on leave from the Vietnam war.  We stayed top drawer at the Hilton Hawaii Village.  We were able to do that, because everything was half price for military people.  We had such a wonderful week, almost like a second honeymoon.  However, I am not particularly interested in returning.  That was a special moment that cannot be duplicated.

Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

Oh every time I saw that “AHA” look in a student’s eyes I went home feeling like wonder woman.  There is nothing better than watching a kid catch on, to see the absolute bliss in her or his eyes when he or she does!  That is priceless.

How many books have you written and how many of those are published?

I have written four books of fiction: Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones, Forest Song: Finding Home, Forest Song: Little Mother, and Forest Song: Letting Go.  I have also written Forest Song Cookbook.  Thus far all the books I’ve written have been published.   I am currently working on another novel as well as another book of stories and, of course, another cookbook.

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?

I plan nothing.  I channel my characters.  That is, I go into a light trance and let my main character tell me her story.  I basically take dictation from her.  Once I have the chapter sketched out from her input, I go back and make art of it.  But the basic story comes through me, not from me.

Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

I have been outrageously blessed.  I have never received a rejection letter. 

(This is where readers gasp and writers stand in awe and applaud you.  You are the first author I have met who has never received even one rejection letter.  Kudos!  J  )

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

I write in the living room.  I have a corner of the sofa where I prop my laptop on the sofa arm and the end table.  It’s right in front of the hearth, and so I enjoy having a fire going when the weather is appropriate.  Of course, I have four feline assistants that make sure I get things right.  Mimi used to be on my lap at all times, but we just lost her.  Now Puck is usually on my lap.  Freckles likes to lie on my left arm.  And Cadeau and Callie enjoy lying on the back of the sofa or draped across my shoulders.

I write at night.  I promise myself every night that I’m going to start writing by about ten, but the truth is I never can.  By the time I take care of everything else that needs my attention each day, it’s at least eleven or twelve by the time I actually sit down to write.  Then I work until I can’t hold my head up anymore.

My character is my muse, and I find that if I call her, she comes.  She wants her story told.  In fact, she can be a bit of a nag.  Some days she refuses let me rest until I at least jot down what she wants me to know.  But I don’t wait for any special inspiration.  I simply write. 

If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it. 

Forest Song: Letting Go was just released in October.  This is the third book in the Forest Song series in which World War II is in full swing.  There is tragedy in this book, though I prefer not to go into it here.  It’s better if the reader lives the experience first hand.  There is betrayal.  However, the characters meet the terrible challenges they encounter with courage and cleverness, even humor.  At bottom, it’s a book about the triumph of the human spirit.

If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?

Among others, I’d like to step into the world of Luciente in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. I admire Luciente and her people.  I love that the genders are genuinely equal in her culture, that she is free to be who she is, to take up as much space as she wants, to speak loudly or softly, as she desires.  I love that her culture truly treasures the earth and understands that it must be protected and nurtured.  I love her culture’s attitude toward the old.  I love that people are free to change their names as they mature and the old names no longer fit them.  I love their attitude toward sex, toward mental illness, toward property, toward war.  I would love to live in Luciente’s world.

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
First and foremost, get your manuscript professionally edited.  I’ve seen some wonderful concepts that sloppy grammar and poor sentence structure have wrecked. 

The second thing is to do your homework.  It’s easy enough to research publishers that will handle your genre.  But that’s just the beginning.  There are many unscrupulous or just inept publishers out there.  Learn as much as you can about a house before submitting.

And then be prepared to spend every waking moment promoting your book.
(I have to add an “Amen” to that!)

What's up next for you and your writing?

I am currently working on three books: the next Forest Song novel, a book of stories, and a cookbook.  That should keep me out of mischief (or get me into some) for a while.
Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?

I’d like to tell them what a pleasure it was to do this interview with you and to thank you for your gracious hospitality.  Thank you for this.

Where can we read more about you and your work?

I have a blog at Xanga:  http://tiny.cc/6ocas
I also have a facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/2axy9n9
They could check my author’s page at Vanilla Heart Publishing: http://tiny.cc/5CNNS
And I have a website: http://www.vilaspiderhawk.com

Thank you for stopping by today, Vila.  It has truly been a pleasure to learn more about you and your writing.